Larry Norman – The Great American Novel

Larry Norman was once an opening act for the likes of Jimi Hendrix and the Doors. He expressed political beliefs in accordance with the counterculture of his times, yet blended with his faith. A pioneer of Christian rock and worship music, his songs should still be considered instructive and artful to both Christians and atheists alike.

With its David Copperfield start (“I was born”) that gets into a review of American politics circa the early 1970s… and in a Bob Dylan Blood On The Tracks-era style… this 1972 song covers more ground than some books of the Bible!

There are many political points that could be discussed here, which could make for a scattered assessment. However, the overall theme has two points: it is anti-war, and anti-war because there are other more pressing domestic problems. Here is an example:

“You say we beat the Russians to the moon, and I say you starved your children to do it”

This is a powerful line about the economic concept of opportunity cost: that government funds spent in one area (the Cold War or “space race”) cannot at the same time go to another area (social programs). “Do you really think the only way to bring about the peace is to sacrifice your children and kill all your enemies?” Norman sings.

As a whole, the political views are tied into the singer’s Christian faith, which is supposed to profess equality of people and love for them, regardless of race and social status and country of origin. The clever word play in the last line calls for moving from the dark to the light, blending the sun with the Son, as in Jesus Christ.


2 thoughts on “Larry Norman – The Great American Novel

  1. A similar sentiment from a 100 years before Norman:
    “..the truth as to war must be more and more insisted on: the loss of time, labour, treasure, and life must be shown, and the satanic crimes to which it leads must be laid bare. It is the sum of all villainies, and ought to be stripped of its flaunting colours, and to have its bloody horrors revealed; its music should be hushed, that men may hear the moans and groans, the cries and shrieks of dying men and ravished women….”–Charles Spurgeon

  2. Max Weber formulated a three-component theory of stratification , that saw political power as an interplay between “class”, “status” and “group power”. Weber believed that class position was determined by a person’s skills and education , rather than by their relationship to the means of production. Both Marx and Weber agreed that social stratification was undesirable, however where Marx believed that stratification would only disappear along with capitalism and private property , Weber believed that the solution lay in providing “equal opportunity” within a competitive, capitalist system.

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